My Top Ten Posts in 2016

In  2016 I widened the scope of my posts from the past.  These were the most popular.

There were still some tragic tales of murder and execution.

One of the many sad events of the 19th century involving poison was the poisoning of baby Charlotte

There were two stories about imprisonment and hanging. One about the Swing riots and the other an 18th century execution for forgery.

Some posts were about other countries reflecting my interest in Portuguese history and also reproducing sections from my mother's diaries from wartime Europe and the Far East.

I discovered more about Philippa of Portugal, mother of Henry the Navigator and daughter of John of Gaunt.

In contrast, my mother's diaries describe her experiences in wartime France and Belgium and living in the Far East in the 1960s

I shared some of my postcard collection of humorous cards in a post on Louis Wain

and photos of Edwardian actresses in a post on Lily Elsie

and showed you some of the fascinating old photographs collected by Lynn Heiden.

Wee Joukydaidles, a Scottish poem

As a child, I loved to search through my father’s old set of poetry books.  One called, “Comic Poets of the 19th Century” included familiar poems such as The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll but it also contained some decidedly unfunny poems.

My favourite, probably because of my Scottish birth, was the following poem.  If you have trouble understanding the Scots' tongue there is a glossary at the end.

Wee Joukydaidles by James Smith

Wee Joukydaidles,
   Toddlin' oot an' in;
Oh, but she's a cuttie,
   Makin' sic a din!
Aye sae fou o' mischief,
   An' minds nae what I say:
My very heart gangs loup, loup,
   Fifty times a day!

Wee Joukydaidles
   Where's the stumpie noo?
She's tumblin' i' the cruivie,
   An' lauchin' to the soo!
Noo she sees my angry e'e,
   An' aff she's like a hare!
Lassie, when I get ye,
   I'll scud ye till I'm sair!

Wee Joukydaidles
   Noo she's breakin' dishes
Noo she's soakit i' the burn,
   Catchin' little fishes;
Noo she's i' the barnyard,
   Playin' wi' the fouls
Feedin' them wi' butter-bakes,
   Snaps, an' sugar-bools.

Wee Joukydaidles
   Oh, my heart it's broke!
She's torn my braw new wincey,
   To mak; a dolly's frock.
There's the goblet owre the fire!
   The jaud! she weel may rin!
No a tattie ready yet,
   An' faither comin' in!

Wee Joukydaidles
   Wha's sae tired as me!
See! the kettle's doun at last!
   Wae's me for my tea!
Oh! it's angersome, atweel,
   An' sune'll mak' me gray;
My very heart gangs loup, loup,
   Fifty times a day!

Wee Joukydaidles
   Where's the smoukie noo?
She's hidin' i' the coal-hole,
   Cryin' "Keekybo!"
Noo she's at the fireside,
   Pu'in' pussy's tail
Noo she's at the broun bowl
   Suppin' a' the kail!

Wee Joukydaidles
   Paidlin' i' the shower
There she's at the windy!
   Haud her, or she's owre!
Noo she's slippit frae my sicht:
   Where's the wean at last?
In the byre amang the kye,
   Sleepin' soun' an' fast!

Wee Joukydaidles
   For a' ye gi'e me pain,
Ye're aye my darlin' tottie yet
   My ain wee wean!
An' gin I'm spared to ither days
   Oh, may they come to pass
I'll see my bonnie bairnie
   A braw, braw lass!


cuttie = mischievous child
gangs loup, loup = goes jump, jump
stumpie = an endearing name for a child
cruivie = pigsty
soo = sow, pig
scud = slap
burn = stream
sugar-bools = round sugar-plums
wincey = cloth with a woollen weft and a linen warp
jaud = wilful, perverse
tattie = potato
Wae's me = Woe is me
atweel = as well
smoukie = cunning child
wean = child
byre amang the kye = cowshed amongst the cattle
tottie = term of endearment for a child

James Smith, the author of this poem, was born in Edinburgh in 1824.  At the age of 11, he was apprenticed to a printer as a compositor.  On finishing his apprenticeship, he worked briefly in London before travelling to Ireland.  He returned to work in Edinburgh as a journeyman printer and spent his leisure time writing poetry.  He had the tremendous advantage of being able to set up the typeface for a book of his own poems.  He often wrote with a sense of humour but also with sadness and tenderness.  As well as poems, some of which he set to music, he also wrote novels.

James Smith married three times and had seven children. "Wee Joukydaidles" shows us that he understood and loved small mischievous children.  When he died in 1887, friends and followers of his work raised money for a memorial on his grave in Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh.  You can see a photograph of this memorial at 

Who were the Gibson Girls? #wwwblogs

The Gibson Girl was created by Charles Dana Gibson in his satirical illustrations from 1890 to 1910.  She represented an idealised, upper middle class, American girl.  She was feminine and athletic, independent and confident.  Her femininity was shown in her hair piled high on her head in soft pompadour style.  She was a “new woman” who worked outside the home, dressed in an elegant skirt and business-like blouse.  At leisure, she might wear a beach dress or a tennis dress but when socialising the new soft corset under her formal dress, showed off her generous bust and hips, hour-glassing from a tiny waist.

Love in a Garden

Charles Gibson originally took inspiration from his own sister Josephine Gibson and then from his wife Irene Langhorne and her sisters, who included Nancy Astor.  Subsequently, his model was Evelyn Nesbit, a young actress, whose life was later blighted when her mother allowed her to be used and abused by wealthy followers, resulting in a notorious murder trial involving her husband.

Camille Clifford

In the new century, a magazine contest was sponsored by Gibson to find a living version of his Gibson Girl drawings.  It was won by stage actress Camille Clifford.  Her figure and deportment demonstrated the perfect S shaped curve.  Born in Belgium, she appeared on stage in the United States and in England.  Having previously been a silent member of the chorus she now had a song written for her by Leslie Styles when she first appeared at the Lyceum Theatre in London in 1905.  Entitled, “Why do they call me a Gibson Girl,” it included this line,

“Wear a blank expression and a monumental curl
And walk with a bend in your back
Then they will call you a Gibson Girl.”

 Inevitably the life changes caused by the outbreak of the First World War, sent the Gibson Girls into oblivion.

For more about Camille Clifford

Who were the Gaiety Girls?

The Gaiety Theatre introduced a new style of musical comedy to London in the 1890s.  The group of female dancers employed by the theatre were called Gaiety Girls but as time went on this term was used to describe the stars of the shows too.  The formula was created by George Edwardes, moving away from burlesque to light comedies, with songs containing witty lyrics and repartee.  The heroines wore high fashion and sang catchy songs.

The Gaiety Theatre on the corner of Aldwych and the Strand

Many productions had “girl” in the title from The Gaiety Girl to The Shop Girl, The Circus Girl and A Runaway Girl. The actresses and dancers were well spoken ladies of respectable background and they attracted many fans, from the stage-door Johnnies to the young women who collected picture postcards of their favourite leading lady.  Many noble and wealthy men took the stars to dine at Romano’s restaurant in the Strand which added to their fame and made the restaurant a popular night spot.

Many well known Edwardian actresses owed their success to their performances as a Gaiety Girl.
Gertie Millar
 Gertie Millar made her name as a singer and dancer in Yorkshire music halls but in 1901 she was chosen by George Edwardes as leading lady in The Toreador at The Gaiety Theatre.  In Our Miss Gibbs she became the most famous musical comedy actress in Britain.  She later married the writer of this play, Lionel Monkton, but their marriage was unhappy and he left her in 1905.  He refused to divorce Gertie and so it was only when he died in 1924 that she was finally able to marry her lover William Humble Ward, the second Earl of Dudley.


Constance Collier, first appeared on stage at the age of 3 and became a Gaiety Girl when she was 15.  She grew much taller than the other dancers and had an exuberant personality.  She went on to become an acclaimed actress and with the advent of talking movies she turned to a career as a voice coach in Hollywood.

Olive May was one of the Gaiety girls who married into the aristocracy.  In 1913 she married Lord Victor Paget but they divorced in 1921.  A year later she married the Earl of Drogheda. She retired from the stage in 1912.  Some found marriages between actresses and peers amusing or romantic, but many disapproved.

For a fascinating contemporary comment on this go to Stage Beauty

Marie Studholme’s stage career lasted from 1891 until 1915.  Chosen by George Edwardes for a small part in The Gaiety Girl, she went on to tour in many of his productions around Britain and abroad.  She was a favourite for post card collectors. 

Pensthorpe Nature Reserve in Norfolk

 Pensthorpe Natural Park in Fakenham combines areas of woodland, wetland and farmland habitats. It was the location of BBC Springwatch from 2008 until 2010.  It is a wonderful place to spend the day, especially if you like birds.

 All photos by Peter L. Lloyd 2013

Norwegian Churches #Architecture #History

Three of the churches we visited in Norway


After a fire in 1904, almost the whole town and the church were rebuilt in three years due to the prosperity of the salt cod trade.

Frescoes by Enevoid Thomt in Alesund church

Window in Alesund church.  

The old church in Olden
was built in 1759 on the site of the old stave church.  It contains a Bible which was published in 1550 by Christian III.

Hat stands in each pew came from the previous church.

Doorway into a family pew which also came from the previous church.

The new church in Olden

Built in 1934
The organ
Inside the new church in Olden

The Stave Church at Urnes in Norway #UNESCO

Three years ago, we had an unforgettable holiday in Norway.  Among the many fascinating places we visited, perhaps the most striking was the isolated stave church at Urnes which we reached by travelling across Sognefjord on a ferry from the village of Solvorn.

There are 28 medieval, wooden stave churches preserved in Norway.  The 12th century church at Urnes is one of the oldest and has outstanding craftsmanship, including carvings which date from the previous building, made a century earlier than the present church. It is a UNESCO heritage site.

The name stave church comes from the building’s post and lintel construction, the main post (stav in Norwegian) taking the load.

The iconography is beautiful and in remarkably good condition.  It appears to be a curling snake with an animal at the bottom trying to bite it.  Some believe this represents the fight between good and evil but it may portray the end of the world from Norse mythology.

Photography inside the church is forbidden but you can view internal pictures here.

The church is not large but its interior is ornate.  Although much of the decoration was added in the 17th century, there is a carved, painted, crucifixion scene high above and a candelabra in the shape of a ship standing on the altar.  Both objects date from the 12th century.